Monday, October 15, 2007


LA County, Local Public Service Agencies Useless During Tunnel Inferno

Las Angeles County. That sprawling metropolis in the San Bernardino bowl. A place famous for fault lines and forest fires; for high-speed police chases, and abuse of power. LA, the City, under the direction (or dereliction) of Chief Darryl Gates allowed huge swaths of his city to descend into anarchy rather than actually “Protect and Serve” all the residents during the riots spawned by the Rodent King verdict.

They can add another abysmal failure, a shameful embarrassment to their list of notoriously ineptly handled crises’ while they stood by as a volatile fire raged in the truck tunnel beneath Interstate 5 north of LA proper. Reportedly, the authorities were concerned about their apparent lack of knowledge of what materials the trucks involved in the massive wreck were hauling. At least 15 semi trucks collided in a cascading event Saturday, October 13, initiating a tremendous fire in the tunnel.

Despite all the equipment and federal Department of Homeland security funding they have received over recent years, they felt what?...ill prepared, poorly equipped, under trained? Perhaps they were simply, tragically, clueless. Have these agencies not planned and trained for such a contingency? What if this had been a terrorist event? What if it was just one of multiple terrorist events planned to occur simultaneously as is the hallmark ofd aL Qaeda? Would they have stood idly by, watching the flames, wondering how many were dying within their proximity?

The questions are many as they are profound. Has there been a lesson learned? What will the “After Action Reports” indicate? One can only imagine.

Certainly, it will be argued that this commentator is not privy to all the salient facts and has no right to critique from afar. There may not be the depth of factual knowledge yet in the public domain to learn the totality of the facts, however, what data has been thus far supplied to the media paints a very disturbing picture. The statements quoting high placed officials on the scene were sickening.

Everyday Members of Service across the country sacrifice unselfishly for strangers often with little regard for their own safety and health. But, when the catastrophic occurs, real professionals act and react without hesitation particularly if they have been well trained, drilled and taught, well conceived contingency plans that most large cities should have on the books by now in the aftermath of 9 11 01 and the total systemic failures and inadequacies as revealed during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

We, as a nation are truly no more prepared for a horrific event such as 9 11 01 than we were 6 years ago. That is why local agencies must take the initiative and forge ahead with the available resources, begin the arduous tasks of thinking, planning , developing and implementing plans. Perhaps it’s easier to train a water hose on rioters than it is on to an actual, lives-at-stake, complex inferno in a unique environment.

Perhaps LA County should out source all essential emergency services. Halliburton probably has a division that is up to the task.

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